by Sarah K. White

Employees feel pressure to use personal smartphones at work

Nov 14, 2016
CareersCIOConsumer Electronics

Businesses are encouraging employees to use personal devices for work purposes, but according to a recent survey, without a proper BYOD strategy and reimbursement plan in place, it might be decreasing productivity.rn

Employees are increasingly being asked to use their personal devices for work-related reasons, according to a survey from Syntonic, an organization that offers mobile content solutions for consumers and businesses, conducted by Information Solutions Group. The survey found that 87 percent of employers rely on employees to use personal smartphones to access business apps. On the employee side, almost half of the respondents said their employer required them to use their personal smartphone at work and 23 percent said they felt pressure to use it outside of work.

Even though businesses are pushing for BYOD, some companies are so far behind the curve on these programs that they aren’t even sure who should head them up. The survey found that 45 percent of CEOs say they should oversee a companywide BYOD program, while 73 percent of CIOs and 51 percent of CFO’s say it falls under IT’s jurisdiction. With 77 percent of respondents saying they expect personal smartphone use at work to increase over the next year, the time to tackle a corporate BYOD policy is already past due.

[ Related story: BYOD continues to add challenges for IT leaders ]

Ditch legacy systems

One of the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of proper BYOD strategies are outdated, legacy systems. Companies run into compatibility issues, because instead of replacing old platforms, they often try to fit legacy systems into new ones, says Sinan Eren, vice president of Avast Mobile Enterprise, a company focused on the virtualization of mobile apps. For example, companies will do things like stream a Windows app to an iPad, which Eren says is “the technology equivalent of bloodletting to cure diseases.”

“A company with a robust mobile strategy does not worry about the make or model of their mobile devices, whether the device is owned by employee or provided by company, whether the apps are enterprise-centric or are consumer apps,” says Eren.

Eren says that businesses typically approach BYOD from the perspective of hardware security. But instead of worrying about security on devices and peripherals, Eren says businesses should focus on securing the corporate data that resides on the devices and creating policies around what can and cannot live on a personal device.

Eren says it’s not hardware and devices that are the security threat, it’s the apps that host corporate data, which is what hackers are after. Your BYOD strategy doesn’t need to be overly complex, he says, but it does need to work within the parameters of your business and be something that can grow and adapt as technology evolves.

“It is all about creating a blueprint that can deliver a consistent, predictable and scalable execution model for deployment, support and ongoing asset management,” says Gina Gallo, president and CEO of Stratix Corporation, a company specializing in managed mobility services.

[ Related story: How to implement an effective BYOD policy ]

Gallo recommends building a BYOD policy that involves cross-functional teams, so that everyone can ensure their needs are met. BYOD policies are often ignored if employees find they inhibit their productivity or create more steps or headaches for them. Involving every department in the development of a BYOD policy will help ensure it’s not only followed, but that it won’t risk becoming a legacy program in and of itself.

Start reimbursing for mobile

Employers and employees aren’t on the same page when it comes to the pros and cons of BYOD. Forty-three percent of employers said that they felt the main benefit of a BYOD program is productivity. However, 50 percent of workers said data restrictions on their smartphone reduced productivity, forcing them to wait until they have a Wi-Fi connection.

Workers are stressed about going over their data limits, incurring more charges because they can’t connect to the Wi-Fi at work via their mobile or they’re on the road and away from Wi-Fi all together. That means they’re waiting until they get home or to a coffee shop to check emails, connect with colleagues or send files, ultimately delaying productivity.

With these growing expectations around BYOD, if you expect your employees to use their personal devices for work, it’s important to offer some type of reimbursement. In fact, thanks to a 2014 ruling in California, reimbursement is part of the labor laws in a number of states. And even if it isn’t a law in your state, know that the desire for these laws is strong; 82 percent of workers reported that they would like to see more laws that require companies to offer BYOD reimbursement.

[ Related story: 7 enterprise mobile management features in Windows 10 ]

Even though employees are calling for reimbursement, it doesn’t seem to be the norm. The survey from Syntonic found that only 29 percent of employees say they receive some type of reimbursement for BYOD. A troubling number when you consider BYOD reimbursement is more than just another perk for workers; 57 said that they felt getting reimbursed for their smartphone did more than just save them money, it increased their overall productivity in the office.

Keep the plan simple

When developing your BYOD strategy, Eren says to keep it simple and to focus on privacy for your employees. “Employees expect their employers will not monitor, inspect, alter or destroy any of their personal content and apps under any circumstance,” he says.

Eren suggests following a growing trend in IT: Rather than obsessing over hardware security features, determine the data that would cause the biggest threat, and figure out ways to lock that down instead of trying to micromanage every personal smartphone in the company.

“CIO’s now know that it is about protecting the corporate data that is mobile, rather than worry about devices. There are no enterprise perimeters anymore, therefore tracking and controlling mobile data wherever it resides is the new trend. It is about time we focus on what really matters,” he says.

Gallo also says that your approach to BYOD shouldn’t look like your investment in desktops and laptop 10 to 15 years ago. BYOD and mobile require a different strategy that requires “proper planning and governance.” Otherwise, IT risks being overwhelmed with the complexities of BYOD such as device requirements, upgrades, multiple device platforms and integration. Your BYOD plan needs to be flexible enough to avoid the issues with legacy systems, and one that can adapt to new technology coming through the door, whether it’s AR, wearables or devices interacting with the internet of Things.

“Once deployed, many companies underestimate the complexity around reverse logistics for rapid device replacements and ongoing management of large corporate spare pools. The enterprise needs to consider outsourcing the deployment, management and monitoring all of the plumbing needed to keep mobile running smoothly,” Gallo says.

Related Video